The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Weekly Wager | The Daily Iowan’s official bettor’s guide for Week 6 of the Iowa football season

Each week during the Iowa football season, Daily Iowan Pregame Editor Matt McGowan and Action Network College Football Editor Pete Ruden will place three hypothetical bets of $100. Their picks are listed below and will be tracked throughout the year.
Iowa+listens+to+the+National+Anthem+as+fireworks+go+off+during+a+football+game+between+Iowa+and+Michigan+State+at+Kinnick+Stadium+in+Iowa+City+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+30%2C+2023.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Spartans%2C+26-16.+Iowa+had+a+total+of+222+years.
Grace Smith
Iowa listens to the National Anthem as fireworks go off during a football game between Iowa and Michigan State at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Spartans, 26-16. Iowa had a total of 222 years.

Pete Ruden’s (9-6, $820) Picks: 

Iowa -2.5

It’s Deacon Hill SZN.

While Purdue has given Iowa its fair share of troubles in the past, I don’t think that will be the case this time around.

Hill actually looked confident in his first real action against Michigan State, and a matchup against a Purdue defense that ranks 100th in Quality Drives and 100th Finishing Drives may be exactly what the doctor ordered.

His numbers didn’t stand out last week — he went 11-of-27 for 115 yards with a touchdown and an interception — but the fact that Iowa receivers had six drops didn’t help his cause.

Running back Kaleb Johnson also returned to practice this week, which would help propel a ground attack that desperately needs a boost.

Luckily for Iowa, Purdue doesn’t have a stout run defense. The Boilermakers rank 85th in Defensive Rushing Success Rate and 122nd in PFF tackle grading, so the Hawkeyes could gain some extra yardage even if the offensive line doesn’t hold up its end of the deal.

On the other side, I expect Iowa’s defense to stifle Purdue’s offense. 

The Hawkeyes held Michigan State to a Success Rate that sits in the seventh percentile nationally, as the Spartans put up an Explosive Play Rate of 1% — good for the 0th percentile. That’s so bad that I don’t even know if “0th” is a word because I’ve never had to use it before.

The Boilermakers boast an offense that ranks sixth in the Big Ten in total offense, but they’re still putting up only 28 points per game under offensive coordinator Graham Harrell. Failing to convert offense into points will be a problem, as Purdue’s offense ranks 101st in Finishing Drives against Iowa’s defensive rank of 26th.

I expect Iowa to muddy this game up with defense and special teams, per usual, so I like the Hawkeyes at -3 or better.

Under 39

I don’t think I can take another over in an Iowa game until Cooper DeJean starts playing offense.

Despite the confidence Hill showed, Iowa still finished in the second percentile last week in EPA per Play and put up a Success Rate of just 34%. 

The backfield averaged a dismal 2.3 yards per carry — not great for an offense that already ranks 115th nationally in rushing offense and 122nd in Rushing Success Rate.

I could see the Hawkeyes taking a small step forward in the passing game against a secondary that sits 107th in PFF coverage grading, but I don’t think it’ll be enough to cash this over.

As mentioned, Purdue’s offense might rack up some yards, but Iowa’s bend-don’t-break defense should be enough to keep the Boilers at bay — especially considering this is no longer a Jeff Brohm offense.

For what it’s worth, Iowa’s defense also ranks 28th in Quality Drives, which should limit the Boilermakers’ opportunities as well.

I’ll keep taking the under until Iowa’s offense proves to me that the over is where I should be looking.

Lock of the Week: Texas -6 vs. Oklahoma

The Red River Rivalry is one of the best rivalries in college football, and we should be reminded why on Saturday.

Oklahoma ranks top 25 in nearly all advanced defensive metrics, while its offense sits in the top 20 in a number of key categories. But I still think Texas is the better team by far.

The Sooners have benefited massively from playing one of the easiest Power 5 schedules to this point. 

All five teams rank outside the top 50 in Action Network senior writer Collin Wilson’s Betting Power Ratings, and four of them also sit outside the top 60 in scoring offense (SMU, 41st). Four of the five — again, not SMU — also come in outside the top 50 in scoring defense as well.

So while the Sooners are outscoring opponents, 237-54, it’s come against the Cupcake Conference.

Texas resides on the exact opposite side of the spectrum.

The Longhorns have been tested twice already this season, downing Alabama in Tuscaloosa, 34-24, and Kansas at home, 40-14.

The fact that they still rank seventh in Defensive Rushing Success Rate and 21st in Defensive Passing Success Rate is wildly impressive. Sitting top-10 in Defensive Finishing Drives and top-20 in Defensive Quality Drives doesn’t hurt either.

On the other side, I have plenty of confidence in Texas’ offense. 

With the way Quinn Ewers threw the deep ball against Alabama and the fact that the Horns found their ground game with Jonathon Brooks last week, Texas should cause plenty of problems for an unproven Sooners defense.

Hook ‘em. 

Matt McGowan’s (10-5, $907) Picks:

Iowa -2.5 

While the Hawkeyes have usually dominated under Big Ten West opponents such as Minnesota and Nebraska, Purdue has always been their kryptonite. Exactly why? I’m not exactly sure, but I’m pretty sure former Boilermaker receiver David Bell factors into the equation. Without Bell, Iowa rolled over the Boilermakers last season in a 24-3 victory. Yet in that contest, Purdue had future pros Aidan O’Connell and Charlie Jones at quarterback and receiver. 

The keys to winning that matchup were a stout defense, which I believe Iowa still has, and a sold run game, which I think the Hawkeyes can make up for with the unique capabilities of quarterback Deacon Hill. 

I’ve said before that Iowa’s pass rush hasn’t been great this season, what with the lack of sacks and pressures, but the next two levels of the defense have the talent to stop Purdue offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s Air-Raid offense. 

Even though I’ll wager that new Purdue quarterback Hudson Card will avoid Cooper DeJean like the plague, Iowa’s other players in the secondary are hitting their stride. Cornerback Jermari Harris notched his first interception against Michigan State last week while safety Quinn Schulte assisted on a forced fumble in the fourth quarter of that contest. 

And of course, Iowa’s top linebacker duo of Jay Higgins and Nick Jackson have the potential to contain Purdue star running back Tyrone Tracy Jr. The former Hawkeye is averaging more than six yards per carry this season, but a majority of his yards have come against Wisconsin and Illinois, who each rank outside the top 50 in FBS in total defense. 

In that same category, Purdue is listed at No. 92 in the nation, giving up an average of 29.6 points per game. Do I think the Hawkeyes hit this number? No way. Do I think that Deacon Hill’s mobility in the pocket and his reported “cannon” for an arm can do enough to cover the number? Absolutely. 

Under 39 

I know I’m sounding like a broken record at this point, but as long as the sportsbooks keep giving me totals around or greater than 40, I’m taking the under without even blinking. The past two matchups between these teams haven’t surpassed 35, and the Purdue offense has had some turnover with the departures of Jones and O’Connell in the NFL. Not to mention with new Boilermaker head coach Ryan Walters being a former defensive coordinator at Illinois, this contest on Saturday will be a grind-it-out sort of affair. 

As we have seen with the Hawkeyes all season, finding the end zone doesn’t come easy, and with Jeff Brohm no longer at the helm, the Boilermakers may not have the answers to find holes in Phil Parker’s defense. 

Repeat after me: Keep calm and bet the under. 

That would be an awesome T-shirt. 

Lock of the Week: Colorado -4 vs. Arizona State 

Since Pete is taking a team that has already won him a lock this season, I will do the same; ironically with a team that will replace Texas as it moves on from the Big 12 next season. That squad is Colorado, as the Buffaloes are no longer overvalued, but are now underrated by sportsbooks following their two-game skid against Oregon and USC. 

By all means, that debilitating loss in Eugene was embarrassing for Coach Prime and his players, but the following week against an even higher-rated USC, Colorado wasn’t fazed by a three-score spread. After looking like they were just going to roll over against the Trojans at halftime down 34-14, the Buffaloes won the second half, 27-14, and had a shot to win the game if they converted the onside kick. 

On Colorado’s final drive of the day against USC, the offensive playcalling was terrible, as the Buffaloes ran multiple runs up the middle on early downs that simply ate more clock than they did yards. Offensive coordinator Sean Lewis will learn from this mistake and let star quarterback Shedeur Sanders air out the pigskin against an Arizona State defense that ranks 50th in the nation in passing yards allowed. 

On third-down conversion percentage, the Sun Devils rank 30 spots worse. Even if Arizona State limits Sanders’ passing yards slightly, they will still allow him to make plays with his legs when he needs to. Even without star receiver Travis Hunter, the Buffaloes still have dawgs at wideout such as Jimmy Horn Jr., Xavier Weaver, and even true freshman Omarion Miller, who put up 196 yards last Saturday. 

Granted, I will admit Colorado is quite lacking in the defensive department (maybe Deion himself and lace up some cleats and show the new generation how it’s done). However, the Sun Devils average 24.6 points per game, a stat not good enough for Brian Ferentz’s contract. 

At the end of the day (literally), this game will be yet another PAC-12 game where both teams score over 20, but I believe Colorado will right the ship and prove to the college football world that their early-season success wasn’t a fluke. Four points will be easy money. 

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About the Contributors
Matt McGowan, Pregame Editor
he/him/his Matt McGowan is The Daily Iowan's Pregame Editor. He is a sophomore double majoring in journalism and mass communications and American studies with a minor in sport studies.  This is his second year with the DI
Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor
Email: [email protected] Twitter: @PeteyRuden Pete Ruden is the Pregame Editor at The Daily Iowan, where he has worked since the beginning of his college career. He has covered a variety of sports at the DI, including football, men's basketball, baseball, wrestling, and men's tennis. Currently a senior, he served as a sports reporter his freshman year, before becoming the Assistant Sports Editor and then Sports Editor his junior year.
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
she/her/hers
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.